Monday, July 13, 2020

GAWD IT WAS HOT


We are in the midst of a heatwave here.  Sunday we made it to 100.  Saturday when I went to the farm it was 97 for a high...


...with a feels like of 107.  Ugh.  With the stay at home suggestion (we're not yet under a lockdown), it's really just go to the farm, do what I need to do and come back.  Don't stop anywhere along the way, ha.


The skies were clear but it sure was hot.  Thankfully, the Zen Machine was back, having been delivered Friday.  So I mowed.  It was a mess.  I should have taken a "before picture" but I was just trying to get it done as quickly as possible.


As it turns out, I was on the mower almost two hours.  It was thick.  Plus I had to go back over areas to disperse the clippings more evenly.  I mowed it short once again.


This time of year, in this heat, the less I have to do the better.  So after a couple of hours on the mower I called it a day for mowing.  The original plan was to edge as well.  THAT didn't happen.  As I told 2nd Man in a text, we don't have to worry about curb appeal and we don't have a Homeowners Association to tell us otherwise, ha.  It's a bit out of control around the fruit trees and the barn and shed but hey, it is what it is.

Of course in this heat watering is the most important thing to do so I watered the fruit trees well, all the stuff on the porch and made sure the garden watering system was still working.  The plants looked a bit wilted so I changed the watering schedule to be more often.  The tomatoes though are starting to turn a pale orange so we should have those soon and the squash has a lot of blossoms so maybe we have more squash coming.

By then it was mid afternoon, hottest time of day and so I headed back into town.


When I got home, 2nd Man had spaghetti and meatballs ready for me.  Also a salad and some garlic bread.  It was so good and very filling, I needed the carbs, ha.

Have a couple other updates on things I've blogged about so I'll post that tomorrow and/or Wednesday.

The city of Houston wants to go on a mandatory lockdown again but the Governor says no.  However, word is that may change soon.  Our numbers are on an almost straight line up on the graph (new cases/hospitalizations/deaths) so we have to do something, this isn't sustainable.

 

Friday, July 10, 2020

PILLSBURY THIN CRUST PIZZA QUARANTINE EATING

During the lockdown/quarantine, we are going to post some food/meals we are eating.  Usually there will be no recipe, what we want to post is just a reminder that simple is good, simple is comfort and during these times, we can all use a little (or a lot) of that.


We like to make pizza.  Simple topping ingredients usually.  2nd Man has a dough recipe he uses but when I was stocking up for the pandemic I saw this Pillsbury's pizza dough that is ready to roll out and had no weird ingredients, no preservatives, just what you'd use at home.  I bought a couple to just have a quick and easy meal and not use up all our flours and such.  Simple toppings of some fresh mozzarella, a package of pepperoni and this pizza sauce that we love.


We rolled it out and it even comes with it's own parchment so it just sort of unrolls onto a baking sheet.  It's thin (they have both options, regular and thin, we like thin).  Our only complaint is that it was small.  Should have filled up this regular size sheet pan.  You can't stretch it either because it's preformed and so thin you don't have anything to stretch.  

We just spread on the sauce, lay out the pepperoni and tear up some mozzarella.


I can't remember what the package said but I think it was 425 for about 12-15 minutes.  It's pizza, we just do it until it gets to how we like it.  Crispy and bubbling cheese with the crispy bits on the pepperoni edges.


Here it is, sprinkled with some Italian seasoning.  It was really good.  Is it homemade?  Sort of.  The creation is but the crust was a shortcut.  It was definitely worth it to save the time and ingredients.  We'll do it again, especially if this stay at home order drags on.  It's nice to just throw it together as a last minute idea.

Normally when 2nd Man makes pizza dough we keep a ball in the fridge but that only lasts a few days.  This is good for when you just need a quick meal.

And can you go wrong with pizza in any form?


Wednesday, July 8, 2020

WASPS IN THE BLUEBERRY BUSHES

First...a little good news.  We have, er, had, ONE SINGLE BLUEBERRY...

A single blueberry

...now of course we aren't trying to grow them to harvest yet, they are still in their containers on the porch in the shade but hey, I'll take one to sample.  I couldn't share with 2nd Man so I was on my own.  So sweet and delicious.  I hope that we can make these work in raised bed containers so that they grow well enough to get some fresh blueberries.  They are one of our favorite berries.

Now comes the part we need advice with:

Wasp nest in blueberry bush

WASPS!  There are two LARGE wasp nests in the bushes.  Now for the ones that pop up around the house (up in the eaves) we use regular wasp/hornet spray.  However, I can't spray that on bushes, especially edible bushes.  The spray can kill plants and of course poison anything edible. 

We need to get rid of them not only so the plants can be moved but just to be able to water them or at least move them to a sunnier spot on the porch.  I'm not about to pick them up like this and get stung.

Been there, done that, LOL!

So does anyone have any idea on how to get rid of them without harming the bushes?  Any home-brew concoctions or other methods?


Monday, July 6, 2020

HOT DAY AT THE FARM THEN REST

Had a couple of posts up this long weekend.  Check them out (Saturday and Sunday).  Since the Zen Machine wasn't back this weekend (it will be ready Wednesday), there wasn't much to do at the farm.  It was super warm and so I just watered things, did a few small things and that was it.


The grass is growing and if we had rain all week, it might be out of control next weekend.  Thankfully it's supposed to be clear and dry all week so hopefully it won't be much worse than this in a few days.


The garden is still doing its thing.  This is the squash bed and there are about 5 small yellow squash on here.


I know tomatoes don't set when it gets consistently warm but since I covered them last weekend with the frost cloth, we have these green tomatoes about about six more.  I'm assuming they'll continue to ripen on the vines so we'll just leave them to see what happens.

At least the birds are not sampling them, ha.


The fruit trees are doing well and the fig tree (even though it's outside of the fruit tree area) has a bunch of figs on it.  They've survived the deer in seasons past but this year I think I'm going to take some bird netting and the extra poles we have from the orchard area and make some protection for the fig tree.


We also figured out where to put the blueberry bush raised bed rings.  Once I mow and clear the ground where they will go, I'll put the rings there (even before filling with soil) and take some pictures.  For now, above is where they will go.  I tested them there and they fit perfectly.  

Hope you had a good weekend and stayed safe.  We are back in "Stay Safe/Stay Home" mode here in Houston with mandatory masks anywhere in public.

Sunday, July 5, 2020

HOUSTON FIREWORKS 2020

Fireworks visible from the apartment.

The city still went on with it's annual large fireworks display but did not allow anyone to watch in crowds in person.  So most people who drove there just stopped in random spots to park and watch.

We had it on TV of course but then realized that the spot where it was done this year put it just on the other side of these buildings downtown, partially visible to us. 

(as always click to enlarge any of them)


If only some were just a little bit higher!


Like these!  Really pretty!


How about hot pink!


This one was really pretty, another one was higher up that I didn't capture but this was the second one that was obviously a bit lower altitude.


Blue!


This one was an interesting assortment of colors, kind of an aqua green and pink and red.  It was almost like a Christmas time firework, ha.  


I like these that are like flares, they don't do anything other than shoot up like this but with super bright colors.  Different than the others, fun to see.


Red!


And last but not least, these are just always SO incredible to see.  Love the size.  Always so impressive, simple but dramatic.

Hope everyone had a good 4th of July and all are staying safe!

Saturday, July 4, 2020

4TH OF JULY 2020

Vintage postcard image via wikicommons.com
Hope you are having a good weekend.  Went to the farm yesterday, watered, checked on things but without the Zen Machine, I just wasn't inspired to work in the yard for anything. Oh and it felt like 147 degrees so there's that...

Today (and tomorrow) we're just staying in and relaxing.  We have bbq ribs on the menu (a post on that will be upcoming) and being in quarantine we will be watching a lot of television.  


NASCAR racing is on the schedule (I think there's some Indy car action too) and then of course we have to stream...


...Hamilton on DisneyPlus because, well, everyone will be doing the same thing, ha.  

Stay inside and stay safe!

Friday, July 3, 2020

FRIDAY

Today at work is the observed holiday for the 4th of July so I'm off and heading to the farm to check on things.  Not much I can do as the Zen Machine is still in the shop but will be ready Tuesday/Wednesday.  


Speaking of, we got the invoice, it wasn't bad.  A little more than we would have liked but better than we feared, sort of in between, ha.  Certainly good to know it's being repaired but since it won't be finished this weekend I'm heading to the farm today.



With the city back to virtual lockdown and now a statewide order for mask wearing of EVERYONE out in public, there is not much I'd like to do "out".  I DO have to stop at the store, those staples we run out of like milk and eggs.  I'll mask up, glove up, and we even have lucite face shields.  I don't care if I look silly, we don't need to get sick from this.

Hope you all are having a good day (as is possible in these crazy times).  More of an update later.


Thursday, July 2, 2020

ONION CURING TABLE INSPIRATION THURSDAY


Every Thursday we like to post a picture of something we've found online that inspires us to do something similar at the farm. Sort of our own blog bulletin board so that we can eventually look back and someday, hopefully anyway, recreate it...enjoy!

Onion curing rack/table, image via wikicommons.com
Not sure what I'm more inspired to do from this photo, grow onions or have a drying rack/table for them just like this, ha.  Maybe it's a combination of both.  We've had great success (finally) with growing garlic.  This could be easily used for them as well.  This is a simple project for sure.

We didn't plant garlic to harvest for this year because we had so much from last year that we're just finishing up using but I think I'm getting the bug to do it again.  Planting time here is November-ish.  I guess in a way this did inspire us...to do garlic again!  We dried our garlic by hanging in the barn but something like a small scale version of this could even work inside the barn. 

Be inspired...

Wednesday, July 1, 2020

SAUSAGE IN CRESCENT ROLLS QUARANTINE COOKING

During the lockdown/quarantine, we are going to post some food/meals we are eating.  Usually there will be no recipe, what we want to post is just a reminder that simple is good, simple is comfort and during these times, we can all use a little (or a lot) of that.


OK so this is pure comfort food (with a bit of processed food thrown in for good measure, ha).  2nd Man and I make a great homemade mac and cheese.  It's very good but takes some work.  When the pandemic started and I was filling up the pantry, I grabbed 5 or 6 boxes of Kraft macaroni and cheese.  It's childhood in a box and certainly easier without going back to the store for more cheese and other ingredients.  Anyway, we made a batch of that, super easy.

I had also stocked us up on sausage, a great quick ingredient when you need a meat.  In this case it's a wonderful beef brisket sausage from HEB grocery store.   The only other thing we needed was a package of Pillsbury crescent roll "Grands".


We cut the sausage into smaller pieces (by the way this is fully cooked sausage, just really needs to heat up and get hot and release the juices).  Then we rolled out the crescent rolls.  My job was to roll them around each piece of sausage. 


I kinda made a mess of that, don't judge, LOL.
I got better with practice though.


See? The ones on the other end of the sheet pan look much better, ha. We baked them according to the package directions and then added a couple of minutes to get the a bit more golden. Your time may vary.


When they were done we just dished it up.  Yeah, no veggies but sometimes you just want something filling and warm and that reminds you of childhood.



Monday, June 29, 2020

ZEN MACHINE GARDEN CHICKENS AND LOCKDOWN


The grass is greener but it hasn't grown too much...yet anyway.  Last week we had about 3 inches of rain and the ground was still pretty wet.  Luckily there wasn't much standing water as the ground and trees soaked it all up.  Next weekend the grass should be ready to mow.  But...


...we had to schedule the Zen Machine to be picked up.  Since there was no rain in the forecast Sunday and Monday, I took it out of the shed and left it here for them to pick up.  In fact, as this posts, it should be on its way to the shop.

You may have seen last weekend, one of the pulleys came off and the drive belt went sideways and started burning.  We watched some videos on replacing that belt and it was a bit more complicated than I could handle right now.  Ordering parts, waiting for them to come in, hoping I could get it right the first time, then if I needed to go in, they are closed to walk ins due to the pandemic...all the while needing it ready for mowing as soon as possible.

Just too much uncertainty.  We have an emergency expense fund just for things like this.  Let's hope it's at least reasonable.


Yes, this is a picture from last weekend but as a reminder, this is what we were getting on the tomatoes.  Birds.  When I was out there Saturday some of the green tomatoes had small pecks on them (guess they don't like green tomatoes) so I decided to take care of that.  I forgot to get a picture but what I did was use the freeze cloth covers to create a tent over the tomato bed.  I put some extra support trellises and used clips to secure it.  

We'll see how THAT works.  


I watered the plants on the porch and since there was nothing else to do, came back into town.  I masked and gloved up and went into a store and picked up some whole chickens and some salad greens.  Our philosophy on roasting chickens is that if we're going to heat up the oven to roast one, why not do two and save the meat for later?  

So that's what we did.  Sometimes we change up seasoning or maybe stuff some herbs inside but this time we went old school.  Butter, salt and pepper.  That's it.  They came out perfect!

We ate one over the course of Saturday evening and Sunday then I took all the meat off the other one and vacuum sealed it for the freezer.

Future meal, ready to go!


We've both been craving a salad and so with the chicken we had a nice mixed greens salad, some boiled eggs (is that weird with chicken? LOL) and 2nd Man made a wonderful vinaigarette with honey, dijon, oil, and some minced herbs.  OMG it was SO good.  We forgot being in quarantine meant not a lot of fresh salad greens.  It's amazing the things you miss.

Send good thoughts that the Zen Machine is not outrageously expensive, ugh.  We're starting our first week back in lockdown, it should be interesting.  We're ready, stocked and prepared once again so we'll just obey the rules and hope for the best.